Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, anti-Asian racism has been on the rise across North America. We saw it violently explode across the United States a couple of weeks ago, with the tragic murder of 6 women of Asian ancestry. Despite the horrific nature of these most recent attacks, anti-Asian racism is not new and has a deep history in Canada and in British Columbia. It is the legacy of the Chinese head-tax and Exclusion Act, anti-Asian Riots of 1907, the Japanese internment, racism during the SARS outbreak, and more. In fact, a recent report by the Canadian Chinese National Council Toronto illustrated that racist attacks against Asians are higher per capita in Canada than in the United States – often with Vancouver having the highest number of incidents. It was unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now.
As an organization committed to a just and equitable future where humans live in right relationship with ourselves, each other, and nature, we are horrified by anti-Asian racism past and present. We stand in solidarity with Asian communities, which includes several members of our Hollyhock team, and join in the collective grief over innocent lives lost and the ongoing attacks on dignity and humanity. Anti-Asian racism is woven deep into the fabric of Canadian society, and as an organization we are committed to holding a spotlight to our own complicity. The work of creating a just and equitable society for all is inextricably linked with the deep inner personal work that Hollyhock upholds. We are not separate from each other, and we are not separate from our history.
Non-Asian people have a leading role to play in standing up to anti-Asian racism. In order to combat our shared racism, we need to begin by understanding that it is at the bedrock of our society – it runs deep up and down the pacific coast. It shows up in all sorts of insidious ways: jokes, assumptions, overlooking, side comments, ignorance. In order to start to rewrite the script, we need to acknowledge our own acts of racism and actively work against them. Linked here are some resources from previous Hollyhock workshops on starting and deepening anti-racism work.
The attacks are also not separate from male perpetrated violence against women. Stop AAPI Hate, a group that advocates on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, reported that of the 3,795 anti-Asian incidents reported between March 2020 to February 2021, over 68% targeted women. Ironically, many Asian women are also our caretakers on the frontlines battling Covid-19 in hospices and hospitals. Sexism and anti-Asian racism can not be separated and must be tackled as an integrated issue. We must understand this complexity in order to uproot it, towards a more equitable society for all.
There are a number of excellent organizations working to combat anti-Asian racism in Canada and we ask you to join us in supporting them:
- SWAN Vancouver
- Butterfly: Asian and migrant sex workers support network
- Vancouver Chinatown Foundation
- Project 1907
May this be a turning point in which we all learn to take personal responsibility for living in loving right relation with one another.
With love and solidarity,
Peter, Andrea, Penelope, Ling
Hollyhock Senior Leadership Team